Kamaru Usman was very close to hanging up the gloves for good in 2018.
Usman, who is the current UFC welterweight champion, was undefeated in the Las Vegas-based promotion yet was having a hard time getting fights. This was especially the case in 2017 and 2018. Frustration began to grow and “The Nigerian Nightmare” nearly retired from MMA.
“There were moments in the UFC where I thought about quitting fighting because there were moments where I couldn’t get a fight,” Usman said to Aaron Bronsteter on the TSN MMA Show. “I was very close. I went six or seven months of just sitting there trying to get somebody to fight. The organization said ‘that guy turned it down, and that guy turned it down.’ And I just said ‘You know what? There’s no point.’”
The welterweight champion says fighters were making different excuses to not fight him. The UFC also did not force the matchups to happen. So, Usman continued to sit on the sidelines while he knew he could become the UFC welterweight champion.
“Everyone made up a different excuse. ‘He needs to beat someone in the top 10 first. He’s not a good fighter or he’s boring.’ No one wanted to let me in the party,” Kamaru Usman said. “The organization was not necessarily taking the steps and the efforts to get these guys to fight me. They knew what would happen, that I would be the welterweight champion of the world. Which is what I am right now.”
In the end, Usman ended up getting fights and claimed UFC gold back in March with a dominant decision win over Tyron Woodley. Now, in the main event of UFC 245, he will have his first title defense against bitter rival Colby Covington.
For Usman, he says part of the frustration is due to the fact Covington turned down this fight several times in the past.
“Part of [the frustration] was my opponent that I’m fighting. He was offered to me several times. Four times to be exact, and he’s turned them all down,” Kamaru Usman concluded.
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This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 12/9/2019.